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Ashenspire - Hostile Architecture review




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7.54
Band: Ashenspire
Album: Hostile Architecture
Release date: July 2022


01. The Law Of Asbestos
02. Béton Brut
03. Plattenbau Persephone Praxis
04. How The Mighty Have Vision
05. Tragic Heroin
06. Apathy As Arsenic Lethargy As Lead
07. Palimpsest
08. Cable Street Again


Hostile music about hostile architecture in hostile societies working as intended.

Uh-oh, we have some political music here, which is bound to not appeal to people who are accusing Rage Against The Machine of going woke. Making music overtly political is something I more often associate either with very milquetoast and vague "politicians bad let's rebel and be free" (though I agree that's not very overt) or with a bunch of hardcore punk, hip-hop, and folk. Or, if we're talking about black metal, an entire subgenre about how genocide is ok. RABM is the polar opposite of that, and though some of it is not taking itself too seriously, it is still a branch of metal that is expanding. Ashenspire have always been overtly political, even if by always I mean on the only other album they have, though Hostile Architecture feels even more striking in that aspect.

I could just talk about Ashenspire's musical aspect, and about the A Forest Of Stars comparisons, but Ashenspire have went above and beyond to hammer in just what the album is about. I'm not generally compelled to check lyrics, but I did in this instance, even if it's not really the kind of album where the vocals are intelligible, I just suck at paying attention to these kinds of things. I could also (and I will) just fill this review with some of the hardest hitting lines like "Always three months to the gutter. Never three months to the peak. Another day to grind your fingers for the simple right to eat." or "With the workers bleeding, the horse is beaten. God forbid that you should ever want a home." and ending everything with "Get down off the fence before the barbed wire goes up.". Some of these lines have chorus-like emphasis and repetition, and Alasdair Dunn's passionate and theatrical performance really makes it hard to not pay attention to the lyrics and to avoid it sounding too tacky in its preachiness.

Musically, A Forest Of Stars is still probably the best term of comparison, with its theatrical take on this sound. Though "this sound" is technically black metal, it is the kind of black metal that went avant-garde and progressive in the mid to late 90s that almost left all black metal roots with bands like Arcturus, In The Woods..., Dødheimsgard, and with touches of bands that followed on that sound like Code, Vulture Industries, as well as but not directly related to that prog black metal wave being the most theatrical band of all time, Devil Doll. But Ashenspire is more than just the most overtly political iteration in this long line of prog black metal. A much leaner take this time around, Hostile Architecture also perfectly incorporates violins and saxophone and even some hammered dulcimer (courtesy of Botanist' Otrebor) that offer some more frenetic palette expansion.

Despondent flows and desolate atmospheres are not just the result of that palette and Dunn's fiery performance, but the entire album is structured to flow and expand its emotional impact with an almost post-metal like sense of progression attached to the prog black metal sound, making even the instrumental songs/moments maintain the impact even without the lyrics. And I keep saying prog black metal or avant-garde black metal, but there's very little actual black metal save some some of the riffing and some of the atmospheric emphasis. I'd almost say that there's more jazz in this than black metal, and it's not just because of the saxophone (everybody knows that having a saxophone means being jazz), but the drumming also has quite a jazzy sense to it, and the entire thing also reminds me of something like Irreversible Entanglements.

It is the kind of album that I'd wish caused more of a paradigm shift than it probably will, both in how well it tacked a fairly well established avant-garde black metal sound, as well as in how to make overtly political music without making it too vague or tacky.






Written on 21.07.2022 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments

Comments: 4   Visited by: 59 users
21.07.2022 - 23:14
Desha
delicious dish
This is one of the few black metal albums that combines all the most popular black metal themes: Infernal/satanist topics, sadness, decay, scary topics. Genius to talk about the current state of the 10th circle of hell (The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).
I really welcome this being even more obviously political than the previous one, which was more about how Britain has been shit historically, not currently.
I pretty much agree fully with your review and I didn't even think about the post metal angle you brought up, but that way of viewing it makes a lot of sense to me. Surprised not seeing a mention of White Ward, some of the sax parts reminded me of them (maybe just because black metal + sax). But I also really appreciate how it's been used more creatively than just "moody instrument" on this record. That said, I *do* miss the violin a bit, that one took a back seat here compared to the debut. Overall I think the debut might be more catchy, but the anthemic nature of this release makes me re-spin it a lot already, which I can't say for many other records this year.
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You are the hammer, I am the nail
building a house in the fire on the hill
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22.07.2022 - 10:15
Rating: 7
AndyMetalFreak
A Nice Guy
Very good review am I right in saying this must have been one of the toughest albums to review so far this year? I suppose it would have been for me. The over the top political theme was bound to be at the centre focus of this album, for me this overshadows the musical brilliance this album occasionally possessed, the use of the saxophone for instance was incredible, even more effective than White Ward imo, aswel as all the other instrumental elements in the song structures.

Obviously some people are beginning to get sick and tired of hearing political issues in music so this I can only imagine would spark some kind of controversy, I'm guessing? But for me the issues really hit home on this one, just like Prince Of The Poverty Line did. And musicians will always see this an important way to get a politics and their personal issues across, and there is a sense of pride in doing so, it's better than standing outside Downing Street with banners, or in the street shouting and causing the wrong attraction at least. Not sure if anything I wrote made much sense
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22.07.2022 - 10:34
Desha
delicious dish
Written by AndyMetalFreak on 22.07.2022 at 10:15

the use of the saxophone for instance was incredible, even more effective than White Ward imo

I will admit it's been a while since I listened to a White Ward record, I also thought this while listening to this. Its use is way more varied here than just "sad melody"
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You are the hammer, I am the nail
building a house in the fire on the hill
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22.07.2022 - 11:36
Desha
delicious dish
Also something I forgot to mention, was that some parts here really remind me of Lingua Ignota ("How The Mighty Have Vision" particularly), does anyone else see this?
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You are the hammer, I am the nail
building a house in the fire on the hill
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